‘Boomslang’ – A Tow Trucker’s Scaly Scam

30-Second factoid for the day: The Boomslang or ‘tree snake’ in Afrikaans, is a venomous, largely tree-dwelling aka ‘arboreal’ snake (as the name suggests) and feeds on things that live in trees…naturally! Its venom is classified as a haemotoxin, highly potent and halts the blood-clotting process causing internal and external bleeding – something a Band-Aid will struggle to fix and deadly if a mere couple of milligrams is administered to a human victim. Nasty little reptile (although rumoured to be timid); unless of course you happen to spend a lot of time in Sub-Saharan African treetops rediscovering your primal tree-swinging abilities, or practicing to become the next Tarzan (or Jane).

Tow Truck Derby

Watching Sunday night’s episode of Carte Blanche, a ‘Boomslang’ is something poles apart from the arboreal reptilian, although the people involved could themselves be described as slimy. Working as a tow truck driver in South Africa must be one of THE most boring jobs I can think of. Sitting at the side of the road all day in your cut-and-shunted Navara with blinged mags and heavily tinted windows, or a slammed (lowered) Nissan Hardbody with roll-bar-mounted Hella-wanabee spotlights, waiting for sight of an accident or a call over the shortwave must be mind-numbing. There is definitely a limit to the number of donuts one can ingest during a single shift! Judging by the number of different companies involved in the tow truck trade in South Africa however this business must be lucrative; either that, or the adrenalin rush experienced by the drivers during the customary drag-race to the scene of an incident must be on par with a mind altering drug high.

‘Boomslang’ in tow-truck chatter is the act of scamming victims into having their vehicles towed. One case involved a mother who refused to have her car towed and was then intimidated and verbally abused. The tow truck driver proceeded to wait until she was loaded into the ambulance and forced her daughter (11 years old!!) to sign the tow authorisation slip. Unscrupulous and downright despicable behaviour by Boksburg Towing. After this airing of this episode, I would like to believe that this company would liquidate, or at the very least be subject to a thorough police investigation in an effort to restore public faith in the punishment of unlawful behaviour.

Carte Blanche interviewed the owner of the aforementioned towing company. It really irritated me how this obnoxious and arrogant cretin could openly deny all allegations against his company malpractices, whilst viewers were shown undercover camera footage of him personally discussing boomslang ‘techniques’ with another company employee. WTF?! (I promise to gargle Handy Andy for this Freudian slip later). The guy’s conscience must be as dirty as a pair of hoar’s drawers…something which a mortar-round up the ass would rectify in an instant. The owner downplays the bad press and rumours as acts of jealously from other tow truck operators…hmmm, as dodgy an excuse if ever there was one. Mafia-style tactics amongst the various towing companies over ‘turf’ seems to be commonplace; what happened to building a company reputation through good customer service, courteous behaviour and good moral ethics?

Another technique discussed during the program was how the towing companies will trick accident victims into believing that they have called the victim’s insurance company on their behalf in order to secure a tow authorisation. Apparently a well known scam in which the vehicle release fees are excessive, sometimes as much as 50% of the vehicle’s value! Top tip: try to steer clear of accidents involving your weekend supercar; rather save it for the Mahindra.

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